By Theresia Titus
Aquinas College will start a new choral group in 2019.
Aquinas College Head of Arts and Culture Chris McMillan said the idea of setting up a new choir, to be called Schola, is based on the rich musical tradition the College already has.
The College currently has five choirs and some vocal ensembles catering for its students across the different year groups, ability levels, and repertoire preferences.
“Currently, more than 300 students participate in our choral program, and this number continues to grow every year,” Mr McMillan said.
“The new Aquinas Schola Choir will have a very different focus from the existing ensembles in that it will sing predominantly liturgical music, perform weekly and will provide the platform for extending an auditioned group of highly capable young musicians.
“The choral training component is the central part of a program which also includes instrumental and vocal training, music theory, and language acquisition and development,” he continued.
Mr McMillan added that the Schola Choir is “being established as a means of providing boys with a rigorous choral education founded on a dynamic liturgical and musical tradition that goes back to the sixteenth century”.
“It is based on similar liturgical choirs of the world,” he said.
“Our College Headmaster, Mr David McFadden, has returned to Perth having served 10 years at Headmaster of the London Oratory School, whose Schola Choir is internationally renowned.”
Aquinas College expects that the formation of the new choir will provide a channel for the college to give back to the community.
“Once the group has established its sound and learnt some core repertoires, we hope to be singing for the vigil Mass at St Patrick’s Basilica and on occasion, at local parishes, particularly those from which many of our College’s students belong.
“Our aim is to be performing regularly from the middle of next year. So, one of our key objectives for the choir is to not only have a significant impact on the musical life of our school but also to the wider community,” Mr McMillan explained.
Students from Years Three to Four will be recruited into the choir, however, some may start at Year Five or Six.
Mr McMillan said Aquinas College has designed a model of choral education that will allow choristers to bring their high level of musical and voice training through to their final year of high school.
Choristers will rehearse for four mornings per week before school day starts and will sing at the College’s chapel service held each morning and receive additional coaching in language pronunciation and understanding as well as music theory, weekly voice lessons, and learn an orchestral or band instrument.
Mr McMillan emphasised that being in a choir and practice singing is beneficial for the chosen students admitted to the choir.
“[They] will receive a very high level of choral training and musical education.
“They will work hard but will also receive some wonderful performance opportunities and experiences as a result,” he concluded.